making sparks fly

January 18th, 2017

making sparks fly

If you’ve been near the future Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] vivastation recently, you’ve likely seen our welding crews up on man-lifts. And if you’re like most people, you probably didn’t give the welding process much thought – welding is welding, right? Lots of protective clothing, impressive clouds of sparks, and something gets permanently stuck to something else.

Of course, as always with all our engineering and construction activities, there’s so much more going on than meets the eye, and welding on the VMC station is no exception. Here’s the primer on what they’re doing up there, and what some of the complexities are.

Since we’re talking vivaNext, form and function both matter. There are two ways to join two pieces of metal: bolting them together, or welding them. Bolting works well enough, and is the most common method used on bridges, high rises and many other structures. But bolts show, and when the design – as for the VMC station – is for a smooth, seamless architectural look, bolts would be out of place. So welding was chosen as the method to join the pieces of steel throughout the structure.

Welding design takes into account the ultimate strength and performance needed from the structure being joined together, including the loads it will bear, and any flexibility it will require. In the case of the station’s steel superstructure, we are using “full penetration” welding. That means that the two elements being welded together are literally being fused into one piece. Rather than one piece being stuck onto the other, enough heat is applied that the two pieces melt and become one at a molecular level. With this type of welding, it’s not just one surface being glued to another; the joint literally goes through the full depth of the elements being connected. The resulting element is as strong structurally as one solid piece of material.

Once the weld is done, it is reviewed by the welding contractor for certification that the weld meets the required standards including having no impurities or voids. The reviews are generally done visually, although in some cases x-rays will be used. Our general contractor will also do their own quality control, and carry out random spot-checks on many of the welds.

In general, welding can be done until the temperature drops to -18 Celsius. But this specialized kind of welding requires warmer outside temperatures. When temperatures are -5 or below, some weld areas may need to be pre-heated with electrodes.

We’re moving as fast as we can to get the roughly 200 structural welds done, with welders working in shifts, each safely attached by full harnesses to a man-lift while they’re up high. Once the sparks are finished, and because it’s too cold out to paint steel, our last step will be to protect the welded areas with an anti-rust finish.

If you’re in the VMC area, we hope you’ll slow down and look around you. If you do, you’ll be able to admire up close its sleek, architectural lines, and understand all the work that went into making the steel superstructure smooth, strong and beautiful.

 

a connected transit terminal

January 11th, 2017

a connected transit terminal

This morning, we marked the beginning of construction for a new YRT bus terminal in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC]. The news release gives the basic project information, but doesn’t delve into how this terminal will connect in the GTA transit network:

bus

Well, it is a bus terminal. YRT buses will use this terminal, taking customers in and out of York Region’s neighbourhoods and to places farther away like Brampton and northern Toronto. Customers will also be able to walk to the VMC vivastation in the middle of Highway 7, where Viva will take them away on dedicated bus rapid transit lanes. They’ll walk about two minutes above ground, or when the weather is frightful they’ll take the underground path and escalator, elevator and stairs to reach the vivastation.

subway

Customers will take the underground path or walk along landscaped paths outside to the VMC Subway Station entrance just south of the terminal, to access the underground concourse for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. The subway concourse is actually under the vivastation on Highway 7 – stay tuned for a future blog about this.

walking and cycling

The VMC area is planned as a walkable area with tree-lined sidewalks and places to live, work, shop and take transit. The terminal will meet accessibility standards, and customers will be able to walk or cycle there from any direction.

driving

The terminal is near the intersection of Highway 400 ad Highway 407, so a passenger pick-up and drop off [aka. “kiss ‘n ride”] will be included, encouraging carpooling.

 

So it’s not your typical bus terminal and it’s more than a place to wait for the bus. It’s about connections, and where they’ll take you from here.

 

changing lights

January 6th, 2017

Most people look at traffic signals every day, but don’t notice how they’re configured, or why they’re installed the way they are. Traffic signals change quite a bit with our construction projects, and not just from green to yellow to red.

Once a project is underway, each intersection in the construction area receives a new, temporary traffic signal pole on each corner, set farther back from the road. Then temporary traffic signals are strung on wires across the intersection from these temporary poles.

Once the temporary poles are in place, the old poles and signals are removed, including any poles in the centre median in each direction.

Having the temporary poles farther back from the road allows access for relocating utilities and widening the road. As lanes are shifted and the road is widened, the temporary signals are adjusted along the wires to ensure they’re in the correct place for traffic and pedestrians.

Later in the project, new poles are installed in their final location, and permanent traffic signals are added, along with a dedicated left/U-turn signal.

Each time the traffic signals are changed, paid-duty police officers are on hand at each intersection for a few hours to ensure traffic flows safely through the intersection. If you’re on Yonge Street in Newmarket or Bathurst and Centre Streets in Vaughan, you’ve seen this firsthand recently.

For a peek at the final outcome, check out the sections of rapidway on Highway 7 East in Markham and Davis Drive in Newmarket.

Despite the cold weather, the vivaNext team continues to work out on the corridors and behind the scenes – making progress as seamlessly as possible.

 

so many different activities this year in Vaughan!

December 22nd, 2016

Vaughan 2016 year in review

So much has happened this year along Bathurst and Centre and on Highway 7 West. Just take a look!

In this video, you can check out some of this year’s behind-the-scenes activity – like trees being transplanted to parks, and pre-construction work – as well as the very visible work you saw, like water main and gas main construction.

It was a big year for rapidway work as well, with boulevard and planting on Highway 7, red asphalt in the rapidway and the big vivastation canopy going up in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre area.

New utilities, wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, shade-giving trees – and smooth rapidway are all part of the vivaNext projects, creating new infrastructure that will serve generations to come, and leave a lasting legacy for the Highway 7 West and Bathurst & Centre communities in Vaughan.

As the year comes to an end, it is great to reflect on our accomplishments. We look forward to more progress in 2017.

For more information on ongoing work be sure to sign up for email updates, and follow us on Twitter. Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com.

a year on Yonge

December 21st, 2016

a year on Yonge

‘Tis the season when we sit back and reflect on the year which has passed and prepare for the year ahead.

2016 was a big year for utility work on Yonge Street in both Newmarket and Richmond Hill. Gas and telecommunications installations were completed in Newmarket and water main and gas work made significant progress in Richmond Hill.

Through all of the construction barrels, mud, noise and mess on Yonge Street, we took pictures every step of the way and put together a video which captures the progress of rapidway construction in both Newmarket and Richmond Hill.

It is amazing to look back and remember all that can be achieved in just one short year. We look forward to another productive year in 2017!

next stop… Yonge! the sky is the limit!

December 16th, 2016

YouTube video: next stop... Yonge! Colouring Contest

What do you get when you give imaginative minds a box of pencil crayons, paper and creative license to draw their vision of the future of transit? Some pretty amazing masterpieces!

This fall we teamed up with the Town of Newmarket’s Recreation and Culture Department along with the Newmarket Public Library to give kids between the ages of 6-12 a challenge. We wanted to see their vision of what transit on Yonge Street will look like in the future. We received many colourful masterpieces brought to life as part of our Next Stop….Yonge! Colouring Contest.

Check out our latest video for a glimpse of the amazing entries we received. We’re sure you’ll agree that selecting our winners was no easy task. Congratulations to Avery [age 6-8], Sienna [age 9 and 10] and Olga [age 11 and 12]! Visit the contest page to see all the artwork we received.

We can’t wait to see what the future of transit holds for the next generation, the sky is the limit based on their imagination!

To find out what we’ve been up to in your community, check out our community events page.

 

let it snow!

December 9th, 2016

Brrrr…..Winter decided to make an entrance this week! With the arrival of snow, our project teams put their winter maintenance plans into action.

With a bit of hard work and planning, the teams will ensure that our construction corridors are routinely maintained over the winter months to make sure everything is safe and secure, and that there is clear and easy access.

When our rapidway projects are in the construction phase, care and control of the corridor is transferred from York Region over to our constructor, but they need a little help maintaining the roads and sidewalks during the winter months.

They rely on our local municipalities [Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Newmarket] to assist with snow and ice clearing on the sidewalks, as well as York Region’s Roads branch to maintain the roadways.

With their specialized equipment and around-the-clock maintenance crews, the Municipalities and the Region are better equipped to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at us.

Before our teams can put their winter maintenance plans into action, we need to ensure that our construction corridors meet minimal maintenance standards. Traffic lanes and sidewalks are inspected to make sure they are wide enough to accommodate snow clearing machinery.

All sidewalks must be cleaned and potholes filled. Traffic barrels are inspected and cleaned so that they are visible at night.

Even though snow continues to fall outside, our construction crews will continue to work at building the rapidways in Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.  Stay up-to-date on work in your area by subscribing to our updates. Happy shoveling!

 

building sustainable communities

November 30th, 2016

YouTube video: Building Sustainable Communities

As our towns and cities grow, we need to prepare for the future. Long term planning means that everything we need is all in the right place ahead of time. That means all the major necessities: transportation, utilities, community services and more.

In York Region, we know our population is continuing to grow – by 64% by 2031. Employment is also expected to increase by a whopping 59%, and all this will mean more demands on our roads in general [50% more demand in the morning peak], and especially an increased need for fast, convenient transit.

That’s why rapid transit systems are part of the plans in York Region. Bus Rapid Transit systems are supplying current and future demand with Viva rapidways that offer time savings. On the Highway 7 rapidway in Richmond Hill and Markham, travel times are 42% faster than in mixed traffic.

These improvements to our infrastructure are appreciated. On Davis Drive in Newmarket – the newest rapidway to open – YRT/Viva ridership increased by 39% between February 2016 and February 2015. According to a 2015 survey, 80% of residents living near an opened rapidway believe the project added value to their community.

From Markham to Newmarket to Richmond Hill and Vaughan, it’s about maintaining vibrant, welcoming communities that are prepared for growth and sustainable for many years to come.

 

when urbanism comes to a small city, the impact is big

November 25th, 2016

when urbanism comes to a small city, the impact is big

When urban projects that bring complete streets happen in a big city, they have an impact. A recent big-city example is Simcoe Street in Toronto, which increased pedestrian space and added bike lanes. But to be honest, these projects don’t create the same splash as they do in small cities. In fact, they can get a bit lost in amongst the city as a whole.

When urbanism comes to small or even medium-sized cities, the effect can be huge – even transformative – creating  a new downtown. And the vivaNext and subway project in Vaughan is doing just that.

A recent article, called “New Urbanism’s impact on small-to-midsize cities”, from the American journal Public Square, lays out several remarkable examples of the effects of complete streets’ on smaller centres.

The article describes the positive impacts urban projects have had on a selection of small U.S. cities:

  • Positive impacts in Birmingham, Michigan. Since urbanism came to Birmingham the city now attracts more shoppers and visitors. In fact, in the wake of the urbanism projects, Birmingham has changed its motto to “a walkable community”.
  • Revitalized Albuquerque, New Mexico. Urban changes to land use in Albuquerque have created “a lively mix of entertainment, shopping, office and houses in place of cheap surface parking and underused buildings.”
  • Formerly forlorn Providence, Rhode Island. Before the urbanism project in Providence, the city had a deserted, empty yet heritage-rich downtown. Urbanism has brought the area back to life “with a vengeance”.

Closer to home, the Highway 7 East vivaNext project in Markham has transformed the street from being a highway with gravel shoulders, to being an attractive place to walk, cycle, drive and shop with convenient rapid transit Viva buses along the route. The project has helped set the stage for new development in Markham, such as York University’s new campus.

In Vaughan, people are starting to flock to the new urbanized area known as Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, which is seeing new urban development in Vaughan and includes design elements such as pedestrian-friendly boulevards, wider sidewalks, attractive landscaping, bicycle lanes, upcoming bus rapid transit and the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE]. New developments are coming to this new mobility hub, transforming the area.

Urbanism in York Region is part of the exciting movement for smaller cities to grow right, serving the Region’s communities for generations to come.

For more information on the vivaNext projects, be sure to sign up for email updates and follow us on Twitter. Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com.

 

working day and night

November 16th, 2016

Those living and working in York Region know firsthand about dealing with construction. During prime construction season, you typically see worksites on a number of Regional roads. We need these road improvements to ensure our fast-growing communities are connected by a strong transportation system.

So how do we get these projects done when people still need to use the roads?

VivaNext rapid transit projects are carefully planned to manage construction and maintain traffic flow. There is a balance on every construction project between the need to get work done on schedule, the need to keep traffic moving, and the construction disruption to adjacent homes and businesses.

On occasion, night work is scheduled on busy roads such as Highway 7 or Yonge Street to avoid traffic congestion during the higher-traffic daytime hours. For example, on Yonge Street between Weldrick Road and 16th Avenue, there is up to eight times more traffic during the day than during the overnight hours.

We understand that sitting in traffic can make commutes longer. On the other hand, when work is done at night we know the noise and lights can make it difficult for those living nearby. The project still needs to be completed, so we move forward, trying to strike a balance – with over 99% of the four-year project being done during the day. Work is limited during peak traffic times, and crews work diligently to complete overnight work quickly so that it’s over as soon as possible.

We know that a good night’s sleep is important, and our crews try to minimize the amount of noise and light they create while they’re working overnight.

Day or night, it helps to know what’s coming so you can plan around it. You can sign up for email notices at vivanext.com/subscribe. Thank you for your patience and understanding.